Like so many of you, I was grieved watching Notre Dame cathedral go up in flames. Pictures immediately popped up on Facebook of ourselves and loved ones posing in front of an intact Notre Dame. It is an immediately recognizable landmark and a world treasure. I am glad to hear that the building has been salvaged and much of the art and artifacts were saved.
The news also turned to those around Notre Dame who were singing and praying. We were all praying that the building would be saved, but then it struck me, we lament the destruction of Notre Dame, but neglect the God that it represents. We mourn the loss of beauty, rather than focusing on the One whose beauty is represented by the cathedral.
Within the past week, three African-American church buildings were burned in Louisiana. It made some news, but they’re not Notre Dame. Watching Notre Dame burn gave me the sense that we may never get it back. I was grateful to have seen it, but began to believe it was the end of the cathedral. Not so for the African American churches. The pastor of one of the congregations said, “They burned down a building. They didn’t burn down our spirit.” These buildings were not much to look at, but housed greater treasures than the world can boast, God’s people, his sons and daughters.
I mourn the destruction of Notre Dame, but I rest in the knowledge that these buildings have one primary purpose: to gather God’s people to give thanks, to set for his worthy praise, to hear his word, and to pray for those things necessary for life and salvation. And beautiful building or no, God’s people can find his presence where two or three are gathered together in his name.